Sunday, September 30, 2007

The War

Now, before you get turned off by the post title, I'm not blogging about the Iraq war. You have heard about donor fatique. It's what many nonprofits were talking about after the Tsunami and Katrina where good folks like you and I were becoming numb to all the causes that needed our time and money. Well now they are talking about "rage fatigue" where a great many people are becoming almost numb to the war in Iraq, along with the current Administration because of our constant anger over the senselessness of it all. I have rage fatigue.

But, I digress. The post will be just a quick talk about the current Ken Burns' film documentary on PBS entitled The War, about World War II. If you haven't seen it, you should. I felt like I had seen enough about World War II with all the movies out there and documentaries (remember the BBC series in the 70s, The World at War?) But in honor of my father who died in 1984 and served in WWII, I feel that I need to watch it. I've seen about 8 hours of the 15 hour documentary and some of the things I've heard and seen have really been eye opening. I keep thinking that it is nothing short of a miracle that my dad came home alive. Not only did he enlist as a Marine right after college graduation, but he served in the South Pacific. Watching the series where they focus for part of the program on the european invasion, then the south pacific, it gauls me that so many of the front line folks like my dad were basically sent out like lambs to the slaughter. Tens of thousands were killed trying to take those little islands, with VERY little training and very little equipment and supplies. My dad basically never talked about his time over there. He did tell two stories though. One was when they were dropped off in the surf and had to wade to shore being contantly shot at. Once they got ashore there was nowhere for them to go so they tried to dig fox holes for cover. Well, they were on coral islands so they could only dig down a few inches. He laid there all night watching the tracer bullets flying just a few inches over his head. The second story was, having enlisted after college, my dad was one of the older men out there fighting. He led companies to battle. One time they were in a fox hole and one of dad's men who was a cocky young guy, either 18 or 19, kept popping he head out of the foxhole yelling at the enemy. My dad kept yelling at him to keep down. The kid popped his head out again and my dad said in an instant, it just disappeared. How anyone can witness what they witnessed, then come back to get married and start families is beyond me.

But, that is just what my dad did. He was on leave in August of 1945 when he and my mom married on August 9th. So many people were getting married it was hard to find an available church. My parents were married at 7:30 in the morning! And, there was an 11:00 wedding waiting in the wings.

For the longest time I thought it was a double wedding, until I realized that my mom's maid of honor wore a veil also. Was that the style back then? My dad's best man was one of his brothers, my Uncle Andy.

Thanks to my sister Becky, a few years ago she took my parent's wedding album and had all the photos copied and put into albums for each of us.

On his way home from the South Pacific to Minnesota, my dad stopped at the PX in Hawaii and bought my mom's engagement and wedding ring. On their 30th anniversary, my mom had the stone of her engagement ring put together with her wedding ring in a new design. Unfortunately, she wasn't real happy with how it came out. My mom died in 2005 and she left me her ring. I absolutely love it. It looks very art noveau'ish, very 20s. A friend once asked me if I ever take the ring off. "Only when I garden" I said, (pause for affect) "which basically means I never take it off!"

My absolute FAVORITE photo of my parents.

Oh, and the happy ending to the story is that while they were on their honeymoon, Japan surrendered and my dad never had to go back to war.

Thanks Dad!!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Ahh, the beginning of the new fall television season! Being a product of the tv-generation, I am a definite tv-aholic. I also think it has something to do with being single. I mean, come on, as much as I love my animals, stimulating conversationalists they are not. I am a news junkie, coming home to watch the local news, then two, sometimes three national news broadcasts. (Oh, and before anyone tsk, tsks me, I am also a passionate fan of the Washington Post and read it religiously every day--so there.)

All that said, the television pickings of the last few years have REALLY been dismal. I cannot stomach any kind of reality tv (sorry all you American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, Smarter than a 5th grader, Remember the Lyrics folks). I also cannot stomach any of the incredibly, obscenely gory CSI shows. Bones? Meh. House? Meh. Big, big, Twin Peaks fan (okay, so that was over 15 years ago). Also, I was a diehard Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan (hmm, okay that was over 3-4 years ago). I became hooked on LOST when it started, Six Feet Under (SFU) when it was rebroadcast on BRAVO (and I can say without a doubt that SFU had the most beautiful, emotional, poignant series finale of anything I have ever seen on tv). So without much out there now, I generally cruise the movie channels for old film noir.

I wasn't too excited about this season until I read a review yesterday of a new show called Reaper on the CW channel. I can't even remember how the CW channel came to be but I think it used to be the WB channel. Tom Shales of the Washington Post is a pretty harsh critic so when he likes something, I take notice. Part comedy, part drama (I think they're call dramedies now), the premise of the hour-long show is that a 20 year old slacker (on the eve of his 21st birthday) working at a huge home improvement store, meets up with the devil. Okay, stay with me here. For some reason, (sorry but I tuned in a 9:05 last night so I missed a crucial part) the slacker's parents sold his soul to the devil before he was even born and the devil was coming to collect on his 21st birthday. Now, we all know this premise is not new. "The Devil and Daniel Webster" anyone. And, if anyone remembers, there was a show on a few years ago called Brimstone with the exact same premise. And who can forget the classic Simpsons episode when Homer sells his soul to the devil for a doughnut! (mmmmm, forbidden doughnut.....aaaarrrggghhhh).

But the devil doesn't want the slacker's soul, he wants the slacker to help capture souls that have escaped from hell and are back living on earth doing really bad things. The slacker asks just how is he to go about doing this and the devil produces this sinister looking box that is smoking with gargoyles on it and says "inside this box has been forged from the depths of perdition and should help you" The slacker takes the box and shows it to his best friend (who, after the slacker explains what happened to him, states in a whiny voice "why doesn't anything exciting ever happen to me!") They open the box with much trepidation and inside is a ............Dirt Devil. I guess you had to be there but it's really funny. So, anywho, he uses the Dirt Devil to suck up the soul of some bad soul/person but needs to know where to deposit it. The devil said there are portals to hell all over the earth. In fact, if you're ever at a place and you think "this must be hell on earth", it probably is. So the slacker drops off the Dirt Devil to the local DMV.

Oh, it made me chuckle and laugh out loud and there were some creepy scenes too. But, being on the CW channel and being at the same time as the lame formulaic show "House" it'll probably last 5 or 6 episodes so I'm trying to get everyone to WATCH IT! Tuesday nights at 9:00 Eastern. None of the actors are household names, except for Ray Wise, who brilliantly plays the devil. Any Twin Peaks fans out there? Ray Wise played the creepy Leland Palmer (who was inhabited by the even more creepy evil spirit "Bob"), father of the murdered Laura Palmer. (Am I using the word creepy too many times?)

The Devil and the Slacker

So, take a break from all those mindless reality shows, and the heart wrenching "The War" by Ken Burns on PBS, to watch a thoroughly entertaining, if not unique, show. And now, a word from our sponsor...........

Thursday, September 20, 2007

GREAT NEWS FOR MAGGIE and Cross Your Fingers for Minneapolis

Last week the Alaska Zoo board voted to send their lone African elephant Maggie to the PAWS Santuary in California!! Hurray!!!!!

The following is from an article in the Anchorage Daily News..........

Accommodations (for Maggie) will include a sprawling 75-acre enclosure where she can mingle with four other African elephants. She'll have a posh 20,000-square-foot barn in case the central California climate gets a wee bit chilly. And there is an indoor jacuzzi that she can fully submerge in to rest her feet. Seriously.

The decision to name PAWS as top pick came with unanimous agreement at a board meeting Wednesday night, said board president Dick Thwaites. The details of the move still need to be worked out, he said, but both the zoo and the facility have reached a preliminary agreement.
Those details should be ironed out within two weeks, which should offer enough time to ship her off before winter sets in late next month, said Alaska Zoo director Pat Lampi.

"We wanted to get this done before the snow flies," he said. "We chose PAWS because of their facilities and staffing, and we wanted to make the best choice for Maggie."

The PAWS facility recently made headlines when its officials, accompanied by TV personality Bob Barker, visited Anchorage after proposing to take Maggie and fully pay for her relocation expenses.During the visit, Barker said he would donate $750,000 to care for her if she were moved to PAWS.

Maggie dusting herself up for the trip to California!

Thank you Bob Barker!! I've heard good things about PAWS. While it's not The Elephant Sanctuary, I had real fears that the incredible long distance from Alaska to Tennessee would be too much for Maggie.

On to Minneapolis. Now, I'm not a Minneapolitan. I'm a native St Paulite thank you very much. But, I keep up with Twin City news almost daily thanks to the internet. Even with this connection, I didn't know that the Minneapolis City Council is scheduled to take a vote on whether to ban wild animal circuses from the city. The vote is tomorrow, Friday, September 21st. I don't hold out a lot of hope, though. As much as I tout my home state of Minnesota as being very progressive, truth be told, it has slowly become much more conservative over the past two decades since I left. (Hmmm, I wonder if that is just a coincidence?) There was even a letter to the editor in the Minneapolis Star Tribune today saying the City of Minneapolis should not give-in to the demands of those "animal rights activists". After all, "their hidden agenda is to ban the eating of meat and the wearing of leather" don'tcha know.

(A typical circus elephant can spend up to 20 hours a day like this)

The hearing last week was well attended though by over 100 people in favor of the ban. One of the speakers giving expert testimony was The Elephant Sanctuary's own Executive Director, Carol Buckley. I also found a wonderful Minneapolis-based group called CRY (Circus Reform Yes) that is spearheading this initiative. So, keep your fingers and toes crossed, say a little prayer, send out those positive, progressive vibes so that Minneapolis can join other progressive cities that have already banned wild animal circuses.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Why have I not been Blogging and a Typical Afternoon

Nothing momentous to report just a perfect storm of events including still being exhausted from painting my room and the subsequent hauling of trash and other things out of said room, birthday festivities including my sister and her family coming over and cooking me dinner, while my brother in law power-washed my house for me. As great as this was it still entailed massive cleaning to prepare for their visit, along with cleaning up around my front porch and sides of the house to prepare for the washing. AND, the most important thing, my camera's battery ran out of power. It is now recharging as I speak so hopefully will be back in action by tomorrow.

Now, there is never a typical weekend day here in my neighborhood. There is always something going on. Yesterday started with me finally getting up the nerve to check out a showroom of a company that does nothing but bathroom renovations. My main bathroom attached to my bedroom has needed to be remodeled since I moved in almost 10 years ago. Now that I finally can afford to get it done, I've been hesitant because: a) it looks SO bad, I'm embarrassed to even have workers look at it, and b) I REALLY hate having workers in my house when I'm not there. So, after getting two recommendations of a company, I decided to bite the bullet and drive to their showroom yesterday to take a look around. Well, nobody told me they weren't open on Sundays!! I drive back home disappointed, yet a little relieved. As I get out of my car, my neighbor Nina up the street pulls up and asks for help. Seems another neighbor Margaret found a newborn squirrel in her yard, and as she was just headed out of town, gave it to Nina. Well, Nina called our one and only wildlife rehabber and they were closed for the day. Nina handed the baby off to me and she had to go and pick up her daughter and would be gone a couple of hours. Now, as I said my camera was out of power but I found a photo on the web of just what the baby looked like:

We had the baby warm in a little container of dryer fluff and mulch. I knew they needed to be fed very frequently so I started going on the web when my neighbor Karin dropped by. She works closely with the wildlife rehabbers and thought even though they weren't answering the phone, someone should be there and she would drive the little guy to the Center (a good 45 minutes away). If she did that, would I be so kind as to drop Jake the lab (who she had been taking care of) back to yet another neighbor up the street who was just finishing up an open house. So Jake dragged me up the street where I dropped him off with his owner Barbara. She lives in an absolutely gorgeous craftsman bungalow. She asked me if I wanted to tour the place. But, of course! Oh, my, I wish I had pictures to share. This house built in 1933 and has only had 3 owners. Each one kept the original wooden moldings and trim, tile fireplace and high ceilings, with wood beams. I told her, "wow, just think of all the animals I could have if I had this place!" She thought I should buy it even though it is about $600,000 OVER what my little house could get.

I was chuckling about that as I walked back down my block. I noticed a woman in a red convertible drive up quickly and get out of her car and run up to a neighbors house. Problem was, the car wasn't in park and started rolling backwards. It took me a few seconds to realize this and started yelling to her as I ran to the car. I tried slowing it down as she came running. We both were trying to hold it back and she finally reached in and pulled on the emergency brake. It stopped about a foot from plowing into a parked car. We were both laughing and she gave me a big hug and thanked me profusely. I walked back home to hear my phone ringing. It was my neighbor Karin. She was at the wildlife center and just wanted to let me know that there were people there and they started feeding the little squirrel right away. All is well. I went on to feed my herd. Just a typical Sunday afternoon.